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Travel Guide 2   >   South Africa   >   Recipes


South African Recipes

Nowadays, South Africa is sometimes described at the "Rainbow Nation", in reference to the the country's diverse mix of peoples and cultures. This diversity is also reflected in the country's cuisine, which includes dishes and ingredients from a variety of different origins. These include:
  • The traditional cookery of indigenous Khoisan, Sotho- and Xhosa-speaking peoples.

  • Settler cookery, introduced by Afrikaner and British settlers.

  • Dishes influenced by Indian cuisine, brought to the country by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent.

  • Cape Malay dishes, which were brought to South Africa by immigrants from the Dutch East Indies (present day Indonesia) and Malaya (present day Malaysia).

  • Dishes influenced by Portuguese cuisine - the neighboring countries of Angola and Mozambique, are both former Portuguese colonies.
Here are some some popular South African dishes include:
  • Mielie-meal - Stamped or ground maize, often eaten in the form of a porridge, but also made into many other types of dishes, including beer.

  • Amasi (Afrikaans: Maas) also known as "inkomazi" - A popular indigenous dish, amasi is fermented cow's milk similar to yogurt or cottage cheese. It may be drunk or eaten with mielie meal (maize flour) porridge.

  • Isidudu - Pumpkin pap with curried cabbage and liver. Milk or amasi (soured milk) may be added, and if pumpkin is not available, potatoes can be substituted.

  • Mealie bread - A sweetened bread baked with sweetcorn.

  • Potjiekos - A stew containing meat, vegetables, rice or potatoes, with water or wine added. Some recipes include the addition of pasta of fruit.

  • Tomato bredie (Afrikaans: Tamatiebredie) - A stew made from mutton and tomatoes. A variety of seasonings and flavorings are used including cardamom, chillies, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

  • Frikkadel - Meatballs with bread, eggs, onions and spices.

  • Hoenderpastei - Chicken pie.

  • Gesmoorde vis - Salted cod with tomatoes and potatoes, and sometimes served with apricot jam.

  • Biltong - Salty, dried, meat (beef, game or even ostrich), similar to jerky but made from thicker strips of meat.

  • Vetkoek - Dough, filled with ground (minced) meat or syrup and honey, and then deep-fried.

  • Waterblommetjiebredie - Meat stewed with Cape Pondweed flowers.

  • Malva Pudding - A apricot-flavored sponge-like dessert.

  • Melktert - Melktert is Afrikaans for "milk tart". This dessert consists of a pastry crust containing a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs. some recipes call for the filling to be cooked separately from the pastry and the two combined at the end, whereas in others, the whole thing is cooked together. Melktert is often flavored by sprinkling cinnamon on the surface.

  • Sosatie - Sosatie is a traditional Cape Malay dish, but popular with all of South Africa's communities. Mutton is marinated with onions, chillies, garlic, curry leaves and tamarind sauce, then placed on skewers, and either grilled or pan-fried.

  • Bobotie - This is another Cape Malay dish. It resembles a meatloaf with raisins, but with a baked egg on the top. Various accompaniments are eaten with bobotie, and these may include banana slices coconut, sambals and yellow rice, as well as chutney.

  • Samosa - Stuffed pastries, originally from Indian cuisine.
Here are some recipe books and cookbooks for South African food:

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Books about South African Cooking and Recipes

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South African Cooking in the USA

By Aileen Wilsen

Echo Point Books & Media
Paperback (212 pages)

South African Cooking in the USA
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Product Description:

South African cuisine is an exciting and unique blend of African, European, and Eastern cooking traditions distilled through years of diverse and dynamic culture into its own distinct style. Now, thanks to the charming and talented mother-daughter duo, Aileen Wilsen and Kathleen Farquharson, you can make all your favorite South African dishes in the right here in the States! With tips on procuring (or substituting) hard-to-find ingredients as well as accurate and reliable U.S. measurement conversions (so you'll never find yourself searching for a calculator in your kitchen cabinets!), South African Cooking in the USA is the most thorough and easy to follow South African cookbook on the market.

Inside you'll find over 170 mouth-watering South African dishes, tweaked and perfected for easy and authentic preparation in American kitchens. Ranging from snacks and appetizers, to entrees and decadent desserts, the dishes in South African Cooking in the USA will inspire hundreds of varied and delicious three course meals. Some favorites include:

  • Samoosas
  • Peppadew dip
  • Bunny Chow
  • Bobotie
  • Oxtail Stew
  • Hot Durban Curry
  • Monkeygland Steak
  • Chakalaka
  • Buttermilk Rusks
  • Melktert
  • Hot Cross buns

…And much more!

A perfect gift for ex-patriots longing for the taste of home or Americans with a fondness or interest in South Africa, South African Cooking in the USA is an integral part of any respectable cookbook collection.

The Classic South African Cookbook

By Melinda Roodt

Penguin Random House South Africa
Released: 2016-12-30
Hardcover (320 pages)

The Classic South African Cookbook
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  • Penguin Random House South Africa
Product Description:
The Classic South African Cookbook is exactly that – classic home cooking for South Africans the way they eat now. In line with the country’s diverse cultures, which often blend most harmoniously in the the kitchen, this book is a kaleidoscope of modern lifestyle with influences from grandma’s kitchen, popular Mediterranean cuisine, as well as both Indian and African culture. But no matter what the roots may be, this book sets a foundation for good, honest, carefree home cooking, incorporating all the well-loved and familiar favourites. The more than 180 recipes have been refined to guarantee mouth-watering results, no matter the skill level. Only fresh ingredients are used, while the various techniques are carefully explained – a real boon to those just setting out on their culinary journeys. Best of all, every recipes is accompanied by a full-colour photograph.

Traditional South African Cooking

By Pat Barton

Penguin Random House South Africa
Released: 2015-03-15
Paperback (144 pages)

Traditional South African Cooking
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Product Description:
Anyone who longs for a beloved grandmother’s famous milk tart or melkkos, or a great aunt’s delicious bobotie or vetkoek, should have this book in his or her kitchen! Traditional South African Cooking is a collection of well-known South African recipes that will enable the modern cook to continue the tradition and produce the same delicious meals that our ancestors used to enjoy. South African cuisine is a unique blend of the culinary art of many different cultures. Dutch, French, German and British settlers, as well as the Malays who came from the East, all brought their own recipes to this country. The subtle adaptation of these ‘imported’ recipes by the addition of local ingredients and the introduction of innovative (at the time) cooking methods resulted in an original and much-loved cuisine that still sits comfortably alongside contemporary cooking. Soups, Starters & Snacks; Fish & Seafood; Poultry; Meat; Game & Game Birds; Vegetables, Salads & Side Dishes; Desserts; Biscuits, Scones, Cakes & Sweet Tarts; Bread and Rusks; Sweets & Sweetmeats: Preserves, Jams & Jellies; Pickles & Chutneys; Fruit Drinks, Beers & Liqueurs; Index.

The South African Illustrated Cookbook

By Lehla Eldridge

Released: 2010-05-15
Paperback (85 pages)

The South African Illustrated Cookbook
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  • Allison Busby
Product Description:
The South African Illustrated Cookbook is a compilation of recipes dear to South Africans from all walks of life and traditions. It includes Xhosa, Cape Malay, Zulu, English, Indian, Afrikaans, Portuguese and new South African dishes. Illustrator Lehla Eldridge has captured various landmarks - both formal and informal - around South Africa to accompany these local recipes that she has garnered from cooks around the country. Her watercolor illustrations are whimsical, humorous and charming, yet perceptive of the country's rich and varied influences. A wonderful gift for an ex-pat or for the culinary traveler!

Best South African Braai Recipes

By Christa Kirstein

Random House Struik
Paperback (96 pages)

Best South African Braai Recipes
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  • Random House Struik
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The fact that more than 100,000 copies of this book have been sold is maybe ample proof that it offers sound, practical advice on all aspects of a braai - from building the fire to judging when the food is cooked.

Essential South African Cooking in the USA: 25 Traditional Recipes

By Aileen Wilsen

Cape Point Press, LLC
Released: 2012-05-21
Kindle Edition (65 pages)

Essential South African Cooking in the USA: 25 Traditional Recipes
Product Description:
Essential South African Cooking in the USA: 25 Traditional Recipes follows on the popular cookbook, South African Cooking in the USA. Each recipe is accompanied by a photograph of the prepared dish. South African cuisine is a delicious fusion of African, European and Eastern cooking styles and flavors. This collection of delicious and easy-to-follow recipes from the Rainbow Nation features dishes such as samoosas, bobotie, mock waterblommetjiebredie, vetkoek, malva pudding, milk tart and buttermilk rusks. Recipes were developed and tested in the USA, using locally available ingredients, and are presented in US measurements. The authors were both born and raised in South Africa. Aileen (BS Home Economics) is an Arizona-based food consultant and writer, and Kathy works as a science writer/editor in Seattle.


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